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Beyond the cyclists bridge.
Short fiction, inspired by people with no home.
He found himself under a bridge, waiting for the next thought to pass by, like another cyclist. His flesh and bones are tight dry by the frosty winter air. Under 4 wool layers, he still feels naked, under 40 years of ideas that were not even his own, feeling he would have preferred to ride his bike with the others up and under the curved paved roads for eternity. He is frozen by his regret , make no mistake he is not sad, he just wants to be somewhere else, where his mind can fly and flow , like when he was a child. I remembers saturday afternoons, stealing food from his aunts kitchen and running into to the garden to terrorising everyone, even the fiercest feline would run and hide, for he was king. Now it seems like it didn’t last enough. He grew up really fast. When schoolwork and house chores started chipping into his white canvased life. I flew less. With time those chips became chunks, and those chunks became pieces, pieces that hid away his peace and used an itching desire to replace it. He was desirefull of all and nothing, one day he wished he followed his hearth, the other he followed reason into the business economics of our greed-built world. So, what did this man do, and why was he sitting alone under the cyclist bridge in this cold weather? A photograph that had been following him since the morning, was puzzled on the other side of the riverbank.
The thought consumed every single inch of the photographs mind, he needed to know who was this man, and how did he get there. The last key elements to the story he was about to publish. At night laying on the mattress that occupied half of his student sized room, he replayed the day’s events, how could the man just disappear under the bridge, he did not remove his sniper like scoped vision for a second, he even went to check if he was still inside, but nothing. It got darker and his eyes gave away to the deep realm of sleep.
He was on the road traveling somewhere in a slim highway traversing across an orange desert, there was absolutely nothing else than rocks and sand. The passenger of a vehicle was driving passed the average speed limit. Now the photograph with an instance of hesitance he turns around to see who it was, a cold sweat drips down his spine, it was the same man we was stalking under the bridge, he could feel it coming! But why was his face worn by this stranger, freaking out, abruptly he looks into the car mirror and sighs in relief, it was still him. But how could he explain? Two of himself in the same car in the same reality, it can’t be possible.
-Don’t panic my friend, we are somewhere appearance and ego do not matter, nevertheless I still don’t know who you are.
-I mean I am sorry if I disturbed you by following you, it’s just..., I don’t know but I swear I meant no bad, why do you look exactly like me? the photograph replied nervously.
-HA! Relax camarade of course you didn’t, you wouldn’t harm anyone, you are just an observer.
The photograph lifts an eyebrow, in a confused disagreement.
-So, why don’t you answer, who are you and why are you in my dream?
-You think I am wearing a mask; you are too ignorant to realise it is your own reflection… Now tell me who are you little photograph man.
The photograph revolted, almost set things straight with this apparent impostor, but he retained himself. And answered calmly, after all it was just a dream.
…Jaan…, I worked for the past twenty years as a hired photograph in many different firms, recently I left my work just out of a gut feeling, a gut feeling I never listened to until yesterday when I saw you. Perhaps I felt we had something in common, maybe something I could learn from you, so I tried to capture you, photograph you. Now that I say it, seems absurd and coward of me. Not talking to you directly, meeting you and facing you, instead of behind my camera behind my world. I was too afraid to help, too afraid of rejection, so I opted to use you, to mould you to put you between frames and collect you in a box forever. I just wanted to set you free, help you fly, help you get up, get out of under that dirty scummy bridge, share lunch with you, maybe would you like that, I just want to share.
Jaan looked to his side to see the man again, but there is no one, and the car is steering itself, in fact it’s dissolving like sugar in a warm glass of water, the speed turns into slowness just like if he was moving in goo, in transparent weightless quicksand, the shapes get rounded, and it feels as if this arid desert is turning in to an ocean ground reef. Jaan now flying , flowing, the car completely disappeared, he just keeps on swimming on. He spots on his right side what once was a desert mountain is now a turquoise lit underwater cave, families of fish swim across and under it, he gets in and the light is almost blinding, that is because there is a pocket of air in that cave. He slowly merges up and lays down on a rounded rock by the side. In this instant he isn’t thinking of anything just savouring the soft passage of clean oxygen into his lungs.
He kneels on the side of the water, the still water acts like a perfect mirror, he can see himself now, who he really was. He was the man under the bridge. His hair and beard were long and scruffy, his face worn out, carved by life’s wrinkles, his eyes caved in and his nose red as a lollypop.
He takes a deep breath in, two twin tears roll down his face, and he smiles, it felt so nice. How long has it been since he last smiled at himself?
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